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3 Mar, 2024 12:51

West’s ‘political games’ stalling aid to Ukraine – Zelensky

Officials in Kiev demand assistance from other countries while Washington’s $60 billion package is stalled in Congress
West’s ‘political games’ stalling aid to Ukraine – Zelensky

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has criticized his country’s Western supporters for the delays in allocating funds to help Kiev’s war effort.

A $60 billion US military aid bill, part of a broader national security package, became stalled in Congress in early February due to objections from Republicans, who demanded that assistance to Kiev be paired with reforms to US immigration policy. The package has still not been passed after lawmakers reconvened following a two-week recess earlier this week. 

Kiev has been increasingly vocal in demanding assistance from its Western backers due to dire shortages in ammunition and weaponry on the front lines. In a statement on his official Telegram channel on Saturday, Zelensky claimed that Ukraine “asked for nothing more than necessary to protect lives.”

“When lives are lost, and partners are simply playing internal political games or disputes that limit our defense, it’s impossible to understand. It’s unacceptable. And it will be impossible to forget – the world will remember this,” he warned, adding that “the world has enough missile defense systems” to share, and delaying the supply of weapons and other necessities to Ukraine leads to the loss of lives.

Zelensky’s statement followed a reported drone attack in the coastal city of Odessa. Ukrainian media claimed that the drone hit a residential building, destroying 18 apartments and killing at least ten civilians. Kiev blamed the attack on Moscow. The Russian Defense Ministry reported on Sunday that drones were used to hit military targets in multiple areas. Moscow has stated that it does not target civilian infrastructure. 

While the US Congress was on break, Russian forces liberated the strategically important city of Avdeevka – a former stronghold of the Ukrainian military located immediately to the north of the city of Donetsk, along with several other nearby villages – and have since continued to advance to the west.

During a surprise visit to the troops in late February, Zelensky said that Russian forces were “taking advantage” of the delays in Western aid to Ukraine, and cited severe shortages of artillery, front-line air defenses, and long-range weapons. In his latest appeal for aid during a recent meeting with US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrats, Zelensky warned that Kiev will “surely lose the war” without further funding from Washington.

Moscow has criticized the West for providing military aid to Kiev, warning that it will only prolong the conflict without deterring its military goals.